Philadelphia Flyers: Grading Each of Their Offseason Moves so Far
The Philadelphia Flyers went from within two games of a Stanley Cup in 2010 to a complete overhaul of their roster two seasons later. The Flyers were swept out of the playoffs this year by a bigger and stronger Boston Bruins team who clearly had a huge advantage in net.
Chairman Ed Snider and GM Paul Holmgren traded away what was considered for six years to be the corner stones of the franchise in Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. They traded for the rights to goalie Ilya Bryzgalov and consequently signed him a to huge 9-year, $51 million deal.
Are the Flyers better suited to win the Stanley Cup in 2011? Will they have enough scoring with the departures of so many key players? Can James Van Riemsdyk and Claude Giroux become the superstars that everyone expects them to be at such a young age?
What we do know is that this season will have all of Flyer's Nation glued to their TV's to see how quickly this suddenly young team can come together.
Let's grade all of the Philadelphia Flyers offseason moves so far.
Signing of Ilya Bryzgalov
The Philadelphia Flyers may finally have shored up a position that has been a question mark since Ron Hextall was between the pipes when they signed Ilya Bryzgalov to a nine-year deal. Clearly the Flyers were impressed with Bryzgalov's numbers with the Phoenix Coyotes, with whom he carried to a playoff berth.
Bryzgalov has shown that he is more than capable of carrying a heavy workload as he went 36-20-10 in 2010 with a 2.48 GAA and .921 save percentage. Some fans are weary of his most recent playoff series against the Detroit Red Wings where he allowed 17 goals in four games, but the Flyers were able to keep their own brilliant defensive corps in tact.
If this Flyers defense can make Brian Boucher and Michael Leighton look like stars than imagine how good they will be with Ilya Bryzgalov. He is a true No. 1 goaltender who instantly makes this team a threat to hoist Lord Stanley for the third time in franchise history.
Getting Ilya to agree to another two years on his contract to make the cap-hit less was brilliant.
Flyers Do Not Re-Sign Ville Leino
Ville Leino is certainly a talented player, but a six-year deal worth $27 million? Really? The Buffalo Sabres signed the winger to a huge contract that you can not blame the Philadelphia Flyers for not matching.
Leino flourished under Peter Laviolette after riding the bench with the Detroit Red Wings. He was a key cog in the Flyers run to the Stanley Cup finals in 2010, scoring seven goals and adding 14 assists.
Last season, Leino scored 19 goals and 34 assists for the Flyers and balked at the Flyers offers of $3 million per season. He coveted $4.5 million and that is nearly what he got from Buffalo.
For that type of money, good riddance.
Jeff Carter for Jakub Voracek and Sean Couterier
Flyers fans probably saw this one coming when their team inked Ilya Bryzgalov to a mammoth contract. Carter seemingly was the perfect choice to go as he has 11 years and $58 million remaining on a 14-year contract, an average cap hit of $5.27 million according to capgeek.com.
Also, the Flyers were able to trade Carter before his no-trade clause kicked in, and they were able to shed some huge guaranteed money. They are losing a guy in Carter that was third in goals scored the past three years and second in plus/minus.
Carter tallied 36 goals, 66 points and a career-high plus-27 rating in 2010 for the Flyers and they certainly will miss his scoring touch. What they will not miss is his uncanny ability to disappear in the playoffs and late-night excursions with buddy Mike Richards.
Speculation flew all season long about the lack of chemistry in the Flyers' locker room and the trading of Jeff Carter and Mike Richards seem to prove the validity of those rumors. The Flyers will be better off with Chris Pronger, Kimmo Timonen and Danny Briere as the team leaders and role-models for the younger guys.
The Flyers were able to sign Voracek to a very reasonable one-year deal worth $2.25 million, and draft big center Sean Couturier with the eighth pick in NHL Draft.
Voracek is also a former first-round pick, having been drafted seventh by the Blue Jackets in 2007. He scored 14 goals and had 46 points last season, but he will give the Flyers another big, strong winger that can skate.
Voracek, unlike Carter, has proven his durability as well, having missed just five games in three NHL seasons. The Flyers were able to steal the 6-foot-3 1/2, nearly 200-pound Couturier at the No. 8 pick after he slipped in the draft.
Many scouts had Couturier ranked as their top prospect before he lost games (and weight) due to illness.
This was a brilliant trade for the Philadelphia Flyers as they were able to rid themselves of 11 years of guaranteed money and sign a true No. one goaltender. They added much needed size on the wings with Jakub Voracek and a potential star in Sean Couturier.
Mike Richards for Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds
While the Jeff Carter trade was always considered a real possibility, the trading away of Captain Mike Richards was a shocker. The Philadelphia Flyers received forward Wayne Simmonds and the top prospect in center Brayden Schenn.
Richards had another solid season in 2010, notching 23 goals and 43 assists last season, but struggled in the Stanley Cup playoffs and constantly clashed with the Philadelphia media. Richards was the captain of a team that has one of the most loyal followings in all of hockey and he never seemed to fully understand his role.
Richards even went as far to stop talking to the media for a few weeks until management told him otherwise. Chris Pronger and Kimmo Timonen were the spokesmen of the team and now they have full control of the room.
The Flyers received the league's top prospect in Schenn, a guy in Simmonds who is capable of scoring 25 goals and the King's second round pick. The Flyers were able to get younger, faster and potentially even more skilled with this trade.
If we look at the Carter and Richards trades together, Philadelphia wound up with one elite prospect (Schenn) and, potentially, a second (Sean Couturier), along with two young, productive forwards in Voracek (former No. 7 overall pick) who is 21, Simmonds, 22, and two more picks.
Richards had heart but the Flyers were smart to rid themselves of his giant contract, which has nine years remaining, with a $5.75 million cap hit. Like Carter, the Flyers moved Richards before his no-trade clause kicked in.
The Flyers have had an overload of centers on this roster and not enough tough wingers, and they addressed both of those areas with the Richards and Carter trades. Just like the Phillies loaded up on pitching and the Eagles with corner-backs, the Flyers realize the importance of a great defense and goaltending.
Receiving top prospects, draft picks and still keeping your defense in tact was brilliant on the part of Paul Holmgren.
Flyers Sign Jaromir Jagr
It still seems a bit odd to say this, but Jaromir Jagr is a Philadelphia Flyer. The Flyers may have had to overpay for Jagr a bit (one-year deal, $3.3 million) but they knew exactly what they were doing when they signed the NHL's ninth career leading scorer.
Jagr will be an immediate boost to a woeful Flyers powerplay. Philadelphia ranked an anemic 19th out of 30 teams with the man advantage last season.
Jagr is left-handed and loves to play on the right side. A top-line of Giroux, Van Riemsdyk and Jagr could potentially pile up the points. This signing is clearly a gamble by the Flyers, as they are counting heavily that the 6-foot-3, 240-pound, five-time NHL scoring champion has not lost too much productivity.
Jagr tore up the 2011 World Hockey Championships and showed that he can still use his big body to shield the puck with the best of him. I'll take Jagr for one year over Ville Leino for six any day.
Philadelphia Flyers Trade Kris Versteeg
Kris Versteeg became the scapegoat for many Philadelphia Flyers fans this past season. The Flyers were seemingly in first place all season long until the Flyers traded for Versteeg for two draft picks.
Versteeg was supposed to be another scorer who would add toughness and push this team over the top. It was amazing that the team began to completely flop when Versteeg was added to the team.
The Flyers traded Versteeg to the Florida Panthers for a second-round pick in either 2012 or 2013 (Florida's choice), and also a third-round pick in 2012. Versteeg is a nice player but is he worth the $3.08 million cap hit he carries?
Certainly not. The Flyers were lucky to receive two draft picks back from Florida.
Flyers Sign Max Talbot
The Philadelphia Flyers signed 27 year old Max Talbot to a five-year, $9 million deal. Talbot is a third-line checking center who had eight goals and 13 assists last season for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Talbot is a vocal leader who will be another welcome addition inside the locker room, and his shot-blocking ability and toughness will remind Flyers fan's of the great Ian Laperriere. He is a great penalty killer that can win face-offs and drop the gloves when necessary.
The Flyers need more guys like Talbot after losing Laperriere who will do whatever it takes to help the team win. In an offseason where teams were grossly overpaying for players, Paul Holmgren was able to ink the veteran Talbot to a very reasonable contract.
Flyers Do Not Re-Sign Carcillo, O Donnell, Boynton, Zherdev, Boucher
The Philadelphia Flyers continued to overhaul their roster from 2010 when they let Dan Carcillo, Nikolay Zherdev, Sean O'Donnell, Nick Boynton, and Brian Boucher. Zherdev came to the Flyers from the KHL (and a lot of baggage) and showed the league why he may be it's most frustrating player.
Zherdev was able to tally 16 goals in just 56 games for the Flyers, but often found himself as a healthy scratch because of his lack of hustle. A guy that doesn't play hard defensively will not find a lot of ice time on a team run by Peter Laviolette.
Carcillo was in the same group of Richards and Carter and the Flyers clearly intended on ridding themselves from those type of players. He took far too many dumb penalties in the most crucial moments of the game and the Flyers already have a player in Scott Hartnell who can do that for them.
Sean O'Donnell was a class act in Philadelphia as was Brian Boucher. O'Donnell never shied away from the media and it seemed like he became the team spokesman when Chris Pronger went down with an injury.
Both Boucher and O'Donnell will be missed in Philadelphia, but you can't blame Paul Holmgren for not bringing them back. All in all they won't be missing too much from this group.
Flyers Sign Andreas Lilja
The Philadelphia Flyers signed 35-year-old Andreas Lilja to a one-year deal. He is a 6’3″, 220lb, left-handed defender. Lilja will add depth to the Flyers defensive corps after Sean O'Donnell signed with the Chicago Blackhawks.
Lilja played in 52 games last season where he played 17 minutes per game. The contract is small and so is the cap-hit so this move to add depth is reasonable.
Philadelphia Flyers Trade Darroll Powe
The Philadelphia Flyers traded Darroll Powe to the Minnesota Wild for a 2013 third-round draft pick. Powe is a physical guy that is a solid penalty killer that the Flyers moved in an effort to clear more cap space.
Last season, Powe was the Flyers leader in hits with 196. He also was one of the fastest players on the team.
Powe doesn't have much of a scoring touch (okay, no scoring touch) but he still is a gritty forward who plays with the type of reckless abandon that Flyers fans love.
And, no, he doesn't take penalties all the time like Dan "Car Bomb" Carcillo which is a plus. Powe will be missed.